Carmelites of the Holy Face
Newsletter 5
Posted: 11 December 2018

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“Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…” Isaiah 7:14

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

In a world where computer screen or iphones are open in almost every office, home or hand, the word, ’Icon’ means no more than a shortcut to a computer program. But for the early Christian, the word, ’Icon’ brought to mind a sacred image. This form of sacred art has existed from the beginning of Christianity. Tradition has it that the first icon (Greek -eikōn “image”) of the most holy Mother of God (THEOTOKOS or “bearer of God.”) was made by St. Luke. Yet the first True Icon not painted by human hands, was the Icon of the Holy Face of Jesus given to us by Our Lord Himself through the holy courageous woman, whom tradition names “Veronica”. The name Veronica, (Vero nika) means true image.

A religious Icon then is a Sacred Image. Unlike our Western holy pictures which appeal to the eyes and stir the emotions; the Sacred Icon does not, as a norm, appeal to our outward senses. To the untrained eye, it has little beauty and many peculiarities. Yet these very peculiarities, when rightly understood, draw the mind to contemplate spiritual realities. But how, one might ask, can those of us, not brought up in the Eastern Christian tradition, begin to understand and appreciate this form of Christian art? We do so by standing before it; by reading it and by prayerful meditation before it.

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